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The classics never die. Gamers have proven that they love them some retro gaming, especially with the sales of the NES Classic Edition and its very welcomed follow-up the SNES Classic Edition. Nintendo, however, might be bypassing a Game Boy Classic Edition in favor of turning your smartphone into a Game Boy.
According to Game Informer, Nintendo has applied for a new patent involving the Game Boy. However, it won't be its own separate portable device like the previous outings of the Game Boy. Instead, the patent seems to point to smartphones being the platform in which Game Boy games would be played.
Over on the USPTO website we see that the publication date for the patent was on September 27th, 2018, but Nintendo had originally filed back on March 16th, 2018.
The patent gets rather detailed, covering the full technical specs of the Game Boy device, which actually appears to be a smartphone cover. Yes, it looks to wrap around your portable phone like a case that has a Game Boy-style housing on the front, with the directional buttons and the 'A' and 'B' button situated at the bottom of the device, along with the 'Start' and 'Select' buttons.
The way it appears to work is that a smartphone with touchpad support reads the button presses made on the Game Boy cover from the user. This results in the touchscreen acting like a surrogate circuit board for the makeshift Game Boy.
I imagine the housing will be used to play emulated Game Boy games on the smartphone through a Nintendo-provided app. The big question is how many generations of the Game Boy would be included in a Game Boy Classic? Would Nintendo go with the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance? Or would the company stick with just the first iteration of the Game Boy and some of its most popular games?
There's definitely a question of how some games will be handled or whether or not they will be included given their popularity. For instance, would Nintendo allow smartphone owners to play all of the classic Pokemon games? Would there also be incentives for purchasing the hardware instead of just using an emulator, sort of like what Nintendo did by including the rare completed edition of Star Fox 2 with the SNES Classic Edition?
Then again, maybe Nintendo could be looking to charge a subscription fee to access the games in addition to selling the hardware for smartphones, which would allow the company to double dip.
Of course, this is all assuming that the device is actually in development. As Game Informer points out, it could be a patent for a real device but it may not necessarily come to fruition.
It would seem like a good solution for bringing a Game Boy Classic onto the market without investing a lot into a separate portable device. If it were budgeted at around $20 and could attach to most smartphones then it might look rather lucrative for a bunch of gamers out there who already put a lot of time into gaming on their mobile devices but also have a craving for some handheld retro gaming.